Since I'm just now getting back into the "normal" swing of things, I began craving something comforting yet easy to make for dinner. (Honestly, who am I kidding? When am I NOT craving something comforting yet easy to make for dinner?) Potatoes almost always fit into that description and are most readily available stored by the bagful in my downstairs, extra in the cellar refrigerator.
Butter, sour cream along with salt and pepper make any potato recipe really sing and that's about all you need for this recipe if you are going to keep it bare bones. If you want to make it "fancy", all that is required is a tiny bit of olive oil along with some dried parsley and paprika that most "normal" folks have somewhere in their pantry. I added a few tweaks to Val's original recipe; the addition of olive oil on the outside of the skins makes it a bit more decadent and keeps the skins soft. Also, when Val is feeling a bit gourmet, she adds chopped fresh herbs to the mashed potato mixture. I prefer to keep it ultra simple, the way she used to make them when I was a little kid in the 1970's and fresh herbs were not readily available in supermarkets during the middle of snowy, cold New England winters especially here on remote Cape Cod.
I love how this recipe implies that it is decadent but it couldn't be any simpler. Be warned, your dinner guests will usually ask for seconds, it may be necessary to double the recipe. Val usually makes her "Stuffed Potatoes" to accompany a special meal like a birthday dinner. Because of the heavy amounts of butter and sour cream and the required use of a hot oven, they most often make their splendid appearance during the colder months. But that will never stop me from making them whenever I have a craving for buttery goodness and a heaping scoop of sour cream, I mean twice baked potatoes.
6 medium sized baking potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub potatoes. Dry potatoes, prick them all over with a fork (3-4 times). Rub with olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake potatoes for up to one hour until potatoes are soft and cooked through. Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Using a kitchen towel to hold a hot potato, cut a small oval out of the top of the potato. Discard top and use for another meal. Scoop out flesh of potato into a mixing bowl. Continue with the rest of the baked potatoes.
Add 3 tablespoons butter and sour cream to potato flesh. Mash potatoes until soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dollop potato mixture back into potato "shells" and place back onto rimmed baking sheet. Dot remaining butter onto the tops of each potato. Sprinkle tops of potatoes with dried parsley and paprika. (At this point potatoes can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.)
Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Place potatoes in oven to crisp the tops and melt the butter. Serve warm with something equally comforting.